News / Africa

Sierra Leone Uses New Device to Improve Power Supply

A
A "System Classic" device that detects faulty cables, Freetown, Sierra Leone, Dec. 24, 2013. (Nina deVries for VOA)
Sierra Leone's National Power Authority [NPA], which is responsible for providing the country with power, has deployed a new device that can detect faulty underground cables. The hope is to help provide electricity around-the-clock through the use of this equipment. It will have a great impact on Sierra Leoneons, who face blackouts on a regular basis.

People in Sierra Leone have been without consistent power since the 1980s. That was when demand for power began to increase. Then in 1991, civil war broke out, lasting 11 years. It left the country in shambles. Many power facilities were destroyed and people migrated to Freetown, the capital. This increased the population even more and caused higher demand than NPA could handle.

In Freetown, blackouts can occur on a daily basis and parts of the country still have no power at all.

December is the most festive season for Sierra Leone, and music can be heard all over as carnival parties heat up.

Faulty cables

If there is no national power and you do not have a generator, however, things can stop altogether during the evening hours.

That is where the faulty cable detecting vehicle that NPA has purchased comes in.

Edward Parkinson is one of the senior technicians who works with the vehicle. He said technicians used to have to dig up entire streets trying to find broken cables. "With this new equipment, it will reduce the down time and also it will help us locate faults at a faster rate."

He explained that the equipment in the vehicle can detect a faulty cable within a few hours. Previously, it could take weeks to figure that out.

Scott Gavin, the deputy general manager for NPA, said his hope is the vehicle also will help the country have power 24/7 within about two years, by detecting faulty cables quickly and repairing power faster.

"And because of the ease with which we can do it, improved technology, within an hour or two, depending on the length of cable, we are able to pinpoint the fault and then we can request for permission if it's along a road, so that excavations can take place," said Gavin.

The vehicle is able to detect problems with medium and low voltage. And because it can be done efficiently, this means customers will have power quickly restored, and not as many people will be affected while excavations are underway.

Effective tool

Gavin said this device has been on the market only for about one year, and it already is being used worldwide. It costs NPA about $230,000. He said it was built in Germany by a company called SebaKMT and although various similar models have been around for decades, this new one - known as the "System Classic" - had all the features NPA needed.

"This one we requested for a complete set, that would help us identify cables in the ground, do location [find] in the event of faults, and do the necessary tests all in one vehicle. So you drive the vehicle, it has a generator in case there's no power at that location, so you just operate the generator and you can power the equipment," said Gavin.

This is all good news to people like Momoh Kamara, a 33-year-old who works as a caretaker at a compound in the western area of Freetown. Like many Sierra Leoneons, he cannot afford a generator and so when there is no national power provided, he just has to make do.

"For example, when you have food, you are not able to store it more than one day, it affects that area greatly and overnight when you have problem, get a funny sound, like thieves, for you to detect [them], it's difficult because the place is dark and whenever they come around if the place is dark, he will have the chance to do whatever he wants to do, so it's terrible to live in a place where there is no electricity," said Kamara.

Kamara also said that when it's dark, snakes slither around some houses at night and will sometimes attack.

Gavin of the National Power Authority knows the cable-fault-detecting vehicle alone cannot bring back full power to the country, though it certainly can help.

And that assistance is something for which Kamara and many other Sierra Leoneons are hoping.

You May Like

China’s Influence Grows With New Infrastructure Bank

Multibillion-dollar China-backed and BRICS-supported Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank seen as possible challenger to such lenders as IMF, World Bank More

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

Rabbi Michel Serfaty makes the rounds in his friendship bus to encourage dialogue and break down barriers between the two groups More

Post-deal Iran Leaders Need 'Economic Momentum' to Solidify Power Base

Economists say deal could inject more than $100 billion into coffers - not enough to entirely rescue ailing economy - but maybe adequate to create 'economic momentum' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impacti
X
Michael Bowman
June 28, 2015 10:05 PM
Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impact

Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees Return to Tal Abyad

Syrian refugees in Turkey confirm they left their hometown of Tal Abyad because of intense fighting and coalition airstrikes, not because Kurdish fighters were engaged in ethnic cleansing, as some Turkish officials charged. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer, in Tal Abyad, finds that civilians coming back to the town agree, as we hear in this report narrated by Roger Wilkison.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Chemical-Sniffing Technology Fights Australia's Graffiti Vandals

Cities and towns all over the world spend huge amounts of resources battling graffiti writers who deface buildings, public transport vehicles and even monuments. Authorities in Sydney, Australia, hope a new chemical-sniffing technology finally will stop vandals from scribbling on walls in the passenger areas of commuter trains. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Cambodia Struggling to Curb Child Labor

Earlier this year a United Nations report found 10 percent of Cambodian children aged 7-14 are working – one of the highest rates in the region – and said one in four children in that age bracket are forced to quit school to help their families. Although the child labor rate has dropped over the past decade, Cambodia has a lot more to do – including keeping more children in school. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.

VOA Blogs